By Tony Farina
As the father of four daughters and a man with many dear friends of color, I am a staunch supporter of the Me Too Movement to protect women against sexual abuse and of the primary goal of Black Lives Matter, the effort to end racially motivated violence against black people.
While I am a strong advocate on behalf of those causes, I am equally committed to the protection of people against wrongful allegations brought in the name of justice that can severely damage the reputation and character of an individual named as a perpetrator, most notably in high visibility cases.
Such a case is unfolding now in the matter of a young Niagara Falls attorney, Nicholas D’Angelo, who is accused in a civil complaint of raping a client in his office on Pine Ave. last October or early November after he summoned her to his office to discuss her landlord-tenant dispute for which he had been retained.
The civil complaint was filed by the woman’s Buffalo attorney last week and already D’Angelo has lost his job as a part-time county Social Services attorney, including his health insurance, and been placed on leave of absence by the Niagara Falls Reporter from his position as managing editor. All of this has happened in a matter of days in a case in which he completely denies all of the allegations contained in the civil suit, including that he raped the woman.
It absolutely must be noted that the alleged victim filed no criminal complaint against Mr. D’Angelo at the time of the alleged rape–last October of November–nor did she report the matter to local police or Niagara County prosecutors. She did nothing, which of course is her right, and she did not dismiss D’Angelo as her attorney in the landlord-tenant case. The only action she took was to fire D’Angelo in March, months after the alleged attack. On the surface at least, puzzling behavior by an alleged victim: no complaint, no dismissal of the attorney for months, and no report to law enforcement.
In fact, there was nothing other than the firing of D’Angelo in March when the alleged victim’s attorney sent letters to D’Angelo in June and July seeking talks toward a very substantial financial settlement that she was seeking, letters which D’Angelo did not respond to.
‘I absolutely deny the charges she has made in her complaint, all of them, but I have already been punished with the loss of my income and health insurance and my role at this newspaper, all because of her false allegations,” said D’Angelo.
I know Nick D’Angelo to be a bright, talented young attorney who has earned my respect with his hard work and attention to detail in his legal work and with this newspaper. I am totally shocked to hear of this complaint, especially coming so long after the alleged misdeed. Her right, of course to wait, but puzzling that the first sign of a problem were letters seeking money to settle the matter.
D’Angelo is in the process of putting together a legal defense strategy, one that will cost him a lot of money, in order to fight the charges filed by Buffalo attorney Lindy Korn on behalf of the alleged victim.
What we have at this point is a complainant who filed no criminal charges when she was allegedly attacked, waiting months to take action that began with her attorney’s letters seeking a financial settlement to get rid of the case.
It can only be said that Mr. D’Angelo, at the ripe age of 27, is now in the fight of his life against an alleged victim who he denies raping last year and who filed no criminal charges against him at any time, especially at or near the time she was assaulted.
It could well take a very long time and many thousands of dollars before the case is resolved. For both parties, it will be an ordeal that will haunt their lives forever.
There is no ability by this reporter to render any verdict on this matter, but it is fair to raise questions about why the alleged victim waited so long to come forward and when she finally did, it was to seek a financial settlement from Mr. D’Angelo.
The Me Too Movement and Black Lives Matter are about fairness and justice and I wholeheartedly support those objectives. But indeed it is a two-way street when it comes down to a he-said, she-said incident with no witnesses and no complaint for months, and that’s what we have here.
It will be a long road ahead for both parties with lots of pain and anguish on both sides. For now, the complainant and her lawyer will push for what they feel is financial justice and D’Angelo is left without a job and a damaged reputation in the city he loves.
I hope the matter can be resolved but that seems unlikely, at least right now. D’Angelo is firm in denying any assault of the complaining woman and that’s where things stand as of this writing.
Who can blame him for going all out to defend his name and reputation, his future hanging in the balance. Should he pay thousands to settle a case for which he denies any guilt? Or should he fight? He’s not the first target in these kind of cases and he won’t be the last. The big strike against her, as I see it, is her failure to make any police report of the alleged attack and retaining him as her attorney for several months after the alleged rape. As I said earlier, that’s her right. But it is still puzzling to objective scrutiny.